New Study Shows: Assisted Suicide may be a Poison Pill at the Polls

A recent study by Dr Jacqueline Harvey and published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows that support for assisted suicide may have negative consequences for politicians who support assisted suicide.

Opposition to assisted suicide has historically been bi-partisan with over 99.9%, more than 175 bills in 34 states and the District of Columbia since 1991 have been rejected or quietly ignored by lawmakers, since there was little to indicate if constituents would reward them with votes - or if they would be risking re-election by championing an issue that divides Americans virtually in half. Fortunately science may finally have some answers on how voters respond to assisted suicide at the polls. 

New research out of Tarleton State University, recently presented at the 2016 Southern Political Science Association Conference combed through all 180 of the 2014 Vermont races, as well as 2015 repeal efforts to determine if there were any risks or rewards when vying for election associated specifically with a candidate’s position for or against assisted suicide. Entitled “Assisted Suicide at the Polls: Risks & Rewards Associated with Voting to Legalize Assisted Suicide vs. Maintaining the Status Quo,” and available at the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that a candidate’s position on assisted suicide may present potential risk without reward for those in favor, or potential reward without risk for those opposed. 

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California's Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?

This guest column was published by the Jurist on Oct 24, 2015

By Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal who has been licensed to practice law in since 1986.

California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when "a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act."  The AMA gives the example: "[A] physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide." Assisted suicide is a general term in which the assisting person is not necessarily a physician. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person's death. 

The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are

"fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico due to a court decision. There are just three states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a homicide charge.
The California bill applies to persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong

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The Supreme Court of Canada was wrong on assisted dying

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

For several years the Oregon suicide statistics seemed to indicate that legalizing assisted suicide had a suicide contagion effect. 

The assisted suicide lobby argue that legalizing assisted suicide prevents desperate people from dying by suicide and they argue that legalizing assisted suicide enables people to live longer because they do not need to die earlier by suicide in order to be capable of causing their own death. The second argument was wrongly accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter decision.

The data is clear. A study published by the Southern Medical Association (October 2015) concludes:

Legalizing PAS has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides. This suggests either that PAS does not inhibit (nor acts as an alternative to) nonassisted suicide, or that it acts in this way in some individuals but is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in other individuals.

The study examined the suicide rates in Oregon, Washington State, Montana and Vermont, where assisted suicide is permitted.

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"Not everyone has family members to protect them."

Dear Assembly members:

My husband and I recently moved from Vermont because we fear growing old in a state with legal assisted suicide.

Vermont offers a case study of assisted suicide’s effects. True Dignity Vermont, an advocacy group working for repeal of assisted suicide, recently reported that nursing home staff had approached a healthy 90 year old, in the home for rehab after a fall, to tell her about her “right” to assisted suicide. Her adult daughter noticed that her mother was upset and uncomfortable, but only found out what had happened after her mother was moved to another facility, where she went to pieces when the staff innocently tried to talk to her about her end of life wishes.

My husband and I envy the 90 year old her supportive family, which got her out of a situation in which she felt traumatizing pressure. Not everyone has family members to protect them. For us and many others, legal assisted suicide is a mortal danger.

With the exception of Vermont, legislators in every state, after hearing the evidence, have refused to legalize assisted suicide.

We urge you to do the same.

Carolyn and Gerald McMurray
Long Beach,

Subversive Strategies to Sell Assisted Suicide

By Dr Jacqueline Harvey

Dr Jacqueline Harvey

Dr Jacqueline Harvey

The numbers don’t lie. In spite of masterful public relations campaigns to suggest otherwise, the assisted suicide movement has an abysmal record trying to legalize assisted self-destruction over the last 21 years. The suicide lobby has few victories to claim. Rather, they consistently fail at each of the strategies they employ to push their agenda. Lawmakers fail to pass assisted suicide bills 99% of the time, after lawmakers are educated of the dangers at public hearings. Ballot initiatives fail in nearly three-quarters of cases to win enough votes, even after propaganda campaigns with no public hearings. Even attempts to subvert lawmakers and voters altogether by courting judges to legislate from the bench have yielded few returns. 

Bolstered by deep pockets and a sympathetic media, we are led to believe that the assisted suicide movement is winning, when the track record shows overwhelming political failure spanning three decades. 

Nowhere is it more clear how lethal education and scientific evidence are to the suicide lobby than by examining how many assisted suicide bills withstand the scrutiny of witness testimony. Since 1994,175 bills have been introduced in 35 states and the District of Columbia and thus far, only one has prevailed. Vermont is the anomaly, the lone bill, passed in 2013 after 19 years of failed attempts to convince legislators, a success rate of .057%. Assisted suicide is an established loser with lawmakers, failing more than 99% of the time in statehouses in over 20 years. Death making does not fare well when subjected to public debate. Thus far in 2015, 25 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation and most bills met their demise, by either lacking support to advance, devastated by testimony and withdrawn to address concerns or simply to spare a humiliating death. A few a late-filed bills still linger after failing to launch, but are unlikely to persevere through the process or manifest as an amendment to still-viable legislation. 

A team of assisted suicide lobbyists are attempting to resurrect California’s Senate Bill SB128 through a procedural ploy that subverts the committee that rejected it and placing it on the floor for a vote, in an affront to the legislative process but in keeping with the suicide lobby’s inability to legitimately pass bills and blatant overall lack of regard for law-making and public will. They routinely circumvent lawmakers to exploit voters, and even disregard both lawmakers and voters to forcibly impose their will through the courts due to an inability to pass assisted suicide through legitimate means. Only one bill has yet prevailed at all through the legislature. A record of 1 in 175 is evidence that assisted suicide is too illegitimate an act to obtain legitimate support. 

Attempts to comfort lawmakers ill-at-ease after hearing testimony about the abuses and dangers of assisted suicide are not persuasive. Rather than address the evidence from testimony which gives lawmakers reservations, the suicide lobby have decided to create lawmakers out of the uniformed voter through ballot initiatives that do not require public hearings. Assisted suicide advocates have frequently appealed to the voters who are not informed by testimony and could be swayed by emotion and deceived by sanitized language designed to manipulate their vote.

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Maine Senate defeats assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Maine Senate defeated assisted suicide bill LD 1270 this morning by a vote of 18 - 17. LD 1270, would have legalized assisted suicide based on the Vermont assisted suicide law

The bill was also defeated (7 - 6) in the Maine Health and Human Services Committee which held hearings on May 15.

Disability Rights Maine, the American Nurses Association Maine, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Hospice Council, theMaine Right to Life, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland the Maine Osteopathic Association, were among the many groups to oppose the assisted suicide bill.

Diane Coleman, from the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet, recently published an article titled:Why disability rights advocates oppose assisted suicide.

The Maine House overwhelmingly defeated an assisted suicide bill in May 2013.

With the defeat of Bill LD 1270, Maine can not reconsider legalizing assisted suicide for the rest of this two year legislative session.

The Disturbing End Game of the Assisting Suicide lobby

By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics.

Jennifer Popik

Jennifer Popik

In a record push, Compassion and Choices or C&C (formerly the Hemlock Society) has introduced bills in nearly half of U.S. states. Although they are promoted as simply another medical option at the end of life, comments made by C&C’s president that appeared in an April 17, 2015 USA Today article point to its real goal – euthanasia on demand for any reason.

Although there are still a handful of states that remain at risk this year for this dangerous legislation, such as California, these bills are being defeated one by one across the country. In state after state, the broad coalition of opponents including disability rights groups, the American Medical Society along with its state affiliates, and scores of other groups have successfully raised the alarm that these laws are just too dangerous.

C&C has gained attention using the case of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with a brain tumor. Maynard moved to Oregon–where it is legal to have a physician prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates–to kill herself.

The case is being used to motivate death advocates and influence legislators, and in many states that did not advance legislation this year, we can be sure stronger efforts will be made in the next legislative session. The legislation being promoted in the states purports to allow doctor-prescribed suicide for competent terminally ill patients, so long as some illusory “safeguards” are followed.

Evidence that safeguards are not working is available from both Oregon and Washington. There are state-issued reports that provide evidence of non-terminally ill persons receiving lethal prescriptions.

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